Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gangtok: Ganesh Tok.

Ganesh Tok is a very small Hindu temple located high up on a hill that offers a great bird's eye view of Gangtok.    On a cloud free day, which unfortnately today is not, you're suppose to be able to see Mt. Kanchenjunga.

Going to Ganesh Tok was the cab driver's idea so as we drove towards it, I was hoping it would be worth our while.


Originally, I was planning to see Enchey monastery first but the driver suggested we go to the viewpoint first as views of the valley are better in the morning i.e., before the fog rolls in.

We headed off from the parking lot at the Namgyal Tibetological Institute. Since we were going to vista point, it was more uphill driving. Up we went, past houses and stores. By now, Gangtok was awake and abuzz with activity.

The driver stopped the car. We had arrived at Ganeshtok. He motioned where we should go - up a set of stairs. I know that stairs are a bit of a challenge for Merle but luckily, there weren't that many steps and they weren't steep. I told her to take it slowly and then went on ahead. At a young 82 years of old, Merle is fiercely independent - she doesn't want anyone helping her. By now, I had learned to leave her be but at the same time, discreetly keep a close eye on her. So, as I walked up the stairs, I periodically stopped to *admire the flowers*.

At the top of the steps was a one room Hindu temple dedicated to Ganesh.....he's the one with the head of an elephant and the body of the boy. Son of Shiva, Ganesh is the God who removes impediments - basically, anything that is preventing you from being healthy or wealthy or from just being happy. So, not surprising that he has a very, very large group of devotees.

We removed our shoes and stood at the entrance to the temple to peek inside. Nothing really to see so we headed up one level to the observatory deck. There, we had a phenomenal, albeit it slightly hazy view, of Gangtok.  Mike pulled out his GPS thingy and gave us the coordinates for where we were standing.



That yellow gadget of his attracted the attention of two young Indian men who were visiting Sikkim for the first time in their lives. Mike is extremely sociable and it wasn't before long that he was chatting with the two young men. In the meantime, Merle and I were absorbing the view of Gangtok below and the surrounding hillsides.

Of course, the TV tower was the most easily recognizable landmark - can't miss the spire. With help from a fellow tourist, we were to spot former the Royal Palace perched on the hilltop. I wondered who lives there now?

And although we could not exactly see our hotel, we could roughly pinpoint the area it was in.

Before we left, the two young men wanted photos taken. At first, I thougt they wanted us to take pictures of them which they did but they wanted Mike and I to be in the photos with them. So, we obliged :-)

Back into our cab, we headed for our next destination....Enchey Monastery.